For the same price of dinner for two at Vetri, you could buy a lot of things. One night at the Rittenhouse Hotel. A dog from a non-reputable breeder. A few dozen parking passes at Lincoln Financial Field (enough for a pretty legitimate tailgate). About 100 hoagies from Wawa during HoagieFest (enough for a very legitimate tailgate).
But if you’re passionate about food and restaurants, there is no place in Philadelphia we can recommend more than Vetri. At $165 per person, plus $135 for the excellent wine pairings (there’s a half-pairing for $75 on weeknights too), a meal for two here will inevitably cost several hundreds of dollars. Definitely save it for a landmark birthday, or the third anniversary of the Eagles’ Super Bowl win. But when you do make it to Vetri, you’ll walk out feeling like that $500-$800 bill (just close your eyes and sign it) was somehow worth it for the impressive show you were just a part of.
At Vetri, your server is your best friend for the night, and the conversations you have with them over the menu will determine which dishes you actually get. If you mention you like mushrooms, an off-menu maitake dish might show up. If you tell them you haven’t had a good piece of fish in a long time, the best monkfish you’ve ever had might wind up on your plate. If you mention you have a headache, two Advil tablets might magically appear under your napkin when you come back from the bathroom. It’s these little details that set Vetri apart from everywhere else, and make us want to refinance our student loans just to fit it into our monthly budget.
You’ll have a steady stream of food coming at you for the entire three hours you’re there, and you never really know what’s coming out next. The whole meal is put together like a Cirque du Soleil show, except with a lot more pasta and a lot fewer moments of unexplainable, unbridled terror. You’ll see everything from smoked beef tongue to a salty and sweet duck breast, and even though Vetri is a decidedly Italian restaurant where you might get to eat six pastas, a lot of the dishes don’t feel Italian at all. We’ve had a citrusy snapper crudo that could easily be on a high-end Japanese tasting menu, and a ribeye that we would expect at Butcher & Singer. They also have some dishes that have been on the menu since the very beginning. The swiss chard gnocchi and almond tortellini are mainstays, and if you don’t see their buttery, melty, delicious faces in front of you, definitely ask for them by name.
So, while Vetri Cucina probably isn’t a place you’ll go often unless you’re the first ever Philadelphian oil tycoon or a well-paid orthopedic surgeon at CHOP, it’s somewhere you should go at least once in your life if you care about restaurants. Even if it means giving up what could be a pretty ridiculous tailgate situation for $600.
The menu here constantly changes, but this is a sample of some things you might eat.
One of the best starters on the menu. Light, citrusy, and can be eaten in about three bites, which is perfect considering how much food you are about to consume.
The man at the table next to us told us that it was his birthday and all he wanted was a cake made out of this dish. We hope that tells you what you need to know.
We can’t promise this will be on your menu, but if this does end up in front of you, it will not be a disappointment.
A classic Vetri dish. You will almost always get this, and you should always be thankful for it.
Another classic, almost as good as the gnocchi. Eat it all.
Simple and delicious, but if you’re getting full, it’s okay to leave some of it on the plate.
This is the best thing on the menu, hands down. It will make you internally think to yourself, “Will this be the best thing I’ll ever eat?”. If a lone tear runs down your face upon your first bite, your secret is safe with us.
The goat is crispy and delicious, but the polenta doesn’t add much. You don’t absolutely need this, but if it happens to appear in front of you, you won’t be mad about it.
The duck is done three ways, and all are good, but the best is the sausage. If this shows up in front of the person you’re here with, grab the sausage bite before they can.
The best dessert here. If you are at all a pistachio fan, you will want five more of these to take home.
Good, just not as good as the flan.